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Blog posts tagged with 'first responders'

Sinking Teeth Into The Mysteries of Plague

Two plague victims in Aschheim-Bajuwarenring cemetery in Bavaria, Germany who died some 1500 years ago have been unearthed and are able to help provide an international team of scientists with a better understanding the type of virus that was responsible for their deaths sometime between 541 and 543. Thanks to the dental remains of these two unearthed plague victims, researchers using very sophisticated methods were able to extract DNA fragments of plague from the teeth from the skeletal remains and reconstruct the genome of what is now the oldest pathogen obtained to date. Yersinia Pestis or Y. Pestis is also known as plague. This bacterium was found to be responsible for the Justinian outbreak and the results showed that this was unique and distinct from various other strains that would later become the Black Death and other plague pandemics that would follow.

“This study raises intriguing questions about why a pathogen that was both so successful and so deadly suddenly died out. One testable possibility is that human populations evolved to become less susceptible,” says Edward Holmes, an NHMRC Australia Fellow at the University of Sydney.

Up until now little has been known about the exact cause of the Justinian epidemic’s origins or cause. The Justinian plague is thought to have been instrumental in bringing about the end of the Roman Empire and was, until the recent findings were too discover, responsible for the Black Death. The Justinian Plague is believed to have killed 30 to 50 million people, estimated to have been at least half of the world’s population at that time. Later the Black Death would emerge to ravage the medieval population killing 50 million Europeans between 1347 and 1351 some 800 years later. These recent findings now show that the Justinian plague was a unrelated strain from the plague that caused the Black Death.

The new results that are published in online edition of The Lancet Infectious Disease, show that the Justinian Plague was a distinct and separate genome of the same Pathogen know as Yersinia Pestis and not an evolutionary forefather or related to the same Yersinia Pestis strains responsible for the Black Death. Another pandemic that had taken hold in Hong Kong and spread across the globe is now more likely to be considered the precursor to the Black Death.

These findings would suggest that the Justinian pandemic strain also originated in Asia and not in Africa as some scientist originally thought. This would lead them to theorize that earlier epidemics, such as the Plague of Athens (430 BC) and the Antoine Plague (165 – 180 AD) may have also been unique and distinct emergence of related Yersinia Pestis strains.

“We know the bacterium Y. Pestis has jumped from rodents into humans throughout history and rodent reservoirs of plague still exist today in many parts of the world. If the Justinian plague could erupt in the human population, cause a massive pandemic, and then die out, it suggest it could happen again. Fortunately we now have antibiotics that could be used to effectively treat plague, which lessens the chances of another large scale human pandemic” says Dave Wagner, an associate professor in the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University.

These studies would suggest that the threat of an outbreak of Yersinia Pestis can occur at any time now, or in the future, is quite possible. Add to this, the possibility of some individual or person intent to using the pathogen as a weapon to wreck terror on an unsuspecting population raises the stakes even higher. New technologies are now available to health and safety teams in the early detection of such possible natural outbreaks and first responders now have the capabilities to be able to equip themselves with the latest tools required to easily and reliably detect not only Yersinia Pestis, but other possible pathogens that could be used as weapons against humanity. This ability to provide early detection is essential in containing and maintaining control of a terrorist planned outbreak and is crucial to preventing another full scale global population pandemic such as those seen in the past.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in rapid and reliable early detection of pathogens that can be utilized against terrorist is the BADD line of bio-warfare detection tests produced by AdVnt Biotechnologies LLC. Developed in response to the white powder incidents that occurred after 9/11, the tests were used in the detection of bio-warfare pathogens during the Iraq War. This line of tests gave first responders the ability to arrive at a possible bio-threat scene and test for powders and liquids left by suspected terrorist and ascertain within 15-minutes or less if the material held the potential of becoming a cause of wide spread contamination. This rapid testing with their on-the-scene detection capabilities helped to open windows of opportunities for immediate containment and control of a possible pandemic. AdVnt Biotechnologies was also the first to revolutionize the hand held assays when they were the first to develop a testing platform that allows for the collection of one suspicious sample of unknown origin to be tested against multiple targets on one detection test cassette. In the not too distant past, responders would have to collect up to 5 samples and run 5 tests one at a time to discover what active agent provided the danger of contamination. If there was very little or sparse material left behind, the residue would have to be sent off site to be examined while the clock was ticking. With the invention of AdVnt Biotechnologies ground breaking PS-5T Pro-Strip multi-agent rapid screening system, for the first time, responders have the ability to hit five different targets from one collected bio-threat sample. Saving time, saving resources, saving lives.

Plague Victim raises cause for alarm in Asia

It seems like a scene out of the history books. A young man out in the field tending his livestock kills a marmot to cook for his supper and is bitten by a flea that is native to that region. The young herdsman grows deathly ill and is taken to the nearest medical facility where he soon dies. He was only 15 years of age. Healthcare officials tending to the unfortunate male soon discovered the cause of death was Yersinia Pestis (Y.Pestis), also known in the history books as the Bubonic Plague or Black Death. But this story did not come from the history books; in fact this story just happened very recently in the small village located on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan near scenic Issyk-Kul Lake, a popular tourist destination. According to medical officials in the region there were total of 162 people who knew the young shepherd from his village and they had all been placed under close observation and were then given antibiotics as a precaution.

To try to stem fears of a major outbreak similar to that of the Black Death from the middle ages, doctors had sent more than 300 medics into the tourist area to offer check-ups and educate the locals on the outbreak. Authorities also set up check points and quarantine zones but insist that there was no cause for alarm. Kyrgyzstan released a statement that the incident “…does not carry any real threat to the epidemiological situation for neighboring countries or residents of Kyrgyzstan”. This has done little to calm the fears of many in the region. Several sports teams from Kazakhstan and Mongolia voiced their concerns about competing in the area and many in the surrounding region were wrongfully informed that the entire country was placed under quarantine causing them to make plans not to attend or cancel any games that were scheduled to be played near the village. Neighboring Russian health official reported that bacterial infection of the strain that once caused the Black Death have been registered in Kazakhstan every year and the disease has been known to occur naturally in parts of the region that encompasses Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. It would seem this statement would do very little in confidence building for tourism for this region.

To date, a international team of Scientific Investigators searching for the cause of the Black Death have been able to trace the earliest cases of Bubonic Plague (Black Death) back to the Asian continent thanks in part to the scientific advances in investigating ancient DNA. There, scientist have been able to build a genetic “family tree” of sorts, going back to a common ancestor some 2,600 years ago originating in mainland China. So it was no coincidence that in 2009, there was report of an outbreak of plague case in the remote town of Ziketan, Qinghai province where a 32 year old male herdsman (that’s right, another herdsman) developed fever and hemoptysis, a condition where blood is coughed up or expelled through coughing. He died en route to the nearest hospital. 11 people who had close contact with him soon developed fever and cough. All tested positive for Plague. A couple of days later two of the 11 who were closely related to the livestock attendant had died as well. Within days authorities had been able to isolate 332 close contacts and kept them under close medical observation, Of the 11 infected who were close to the herdsman 7 were able to recover without incident and two others had experienced more severe symptoms. Chinese authorities immediately implemented traffic controls around the affected regions and experts in disease control and prevention had been dispatched.

It would seem China is no stranger to understanding how important first response is in containing Bio – threat outbreaks. There is no way to truly access how many lives have been spared due to their fast acting and due diligence in being able to identify, control and contain what could have easily have become a horrific globally catastrophic outbreak. Early identification of these threats is the key to prevention and containment. When the added threat of bio-terrorism is brought into play, the idea of a mass outbreak taking out large numbers of the human population presents a serious game change. The need for all countries globally to have preparedness protocols in place in order to contain and eradicate biological threats becomes essential to the overall survival of the human race. If you take into account that mass transit and communication now has all people connected on a global scale, an uncontrolled outbreak in one country could spell serious trouble for other countries not properly prepared to handle uncontrolled biological threats on a massive scale. Factor in that China alone is one of the most densely populated countries on the planet with an estimated 1.352 billion people accounted for in the year 2012, both their need and ability to respond quickly and effectively to a bio-threat is a very admirable feat of engineering and their extraordinary level of preparedness deserves to be commended.

Any biological threat poses a great risk to the world has a whole, even more so than that of Nuclear or Chemical weapons combined. Just how serious can this threat really be? One only has to do the math to see just how serious a risk the world is facing. Take a look at the following estimates on lives lost using just one of these threats …

Dispersal of Chemicals such as Sarin Gas by a single aircraft … 400 – 800 approximate deaths
Recent events in Syria can attest to these numbers.
Dispersal of Anthrax by a single aircraft … 420,000 – 1,400,000 approximate deaths
Hydrogen Bomb 1.0 Megatons TNT equivalent 570,000 – 1,900,000 approximate deaths
Atomic Bomb 12.5 kilotons TNT equivalent approximate deaths 23,000 – 80,000 approximate deaths
Scud Missile carrying 300 kg of Sarin Gas 60 -100
Scud Missile carrying 30 kg Anthrax 30,000 – 100,000

What is not made clear in this report is whether they take into account the spread of a biological agent if it should be able to breach the containment barriers if any, that are setup upon discovery of the initial outbreak. With mass amounts of people traveling throughout the globe by plane, train, ship or car, one person who had become infected can easily infect 20 more individuals who then can infect 20 more. So it becomes very possible for a terrorist in one country trying to harm an enemy in another country to in fact sign their own death warrant as well as those living in their own country simply because they failed to take into consideration the spread of such an outbreak and the possibilities of a containment breach. The World Health Organization estimates the spread of an infectious disease can happen from point to another in less then 36 hours.

Suddenly one herdsman infected with the plague and meeting his demise in what many may assume to be an isolated part of the world takes on a greater significance when viewed from the wide lens of bio-logical threats and bio-terrorism acts. The best arsenal against such threats is simply expecting, planning, and proper preparedness protocols that have been setup well in advance of the terrorist threat. Once these protocols are in place, what could have become a biological Armageddon type event is mercifully turned into a little regarded and soon to be forgotten back page news item. One of the keys to developing and preparing an effective protocol towards bio-threat prevention and planning is having the proper training and tools available that give first responders the ability to rapidly detect with confidence the type of threat being deployed. AdVnt Biotechnologies, LLC is proud to be producers of some of these most highly regarded bio-warfare threat detection systems in the world. Using advanced gene focused detection systems to develop tests that can rapidly detect targeted environmental bio-threats such as Anthrax, Ricin, Botulinum, Plague, SEB and Tularemia in as little as 15 minutes of testing, AdVnt Biotechnologies is proud to state that our tests have become a viable and reliable tool in the war against bio-terrorism. Used globally, AdVnt Biotechnologies BADD and Pro-Strips bio-warfare agent detection tests are easy to use and have been field tested time and time again since 2002.

The other key ingredient to bio-warfare preparedness, training is also essential to the success of any mission. In response to this, AdVnt Biotechnologies has develop an easy to understand system designed for a classroom environment that is outstanding in helping to prepare new recruits in getting the hands on experience helpful in bio-warfare detection out in the field by providing a way to give them hands on preparation in the safety of a classroom setting. Our ATTAK Pro-Strip training system comes with simulated powders and liquids and easy to follow training test to help create a simulated attack allowing new recruits the ability to become mentally and intellectually ready for a real-time, bio-terror event. AdVnt Biotechnologies has been on the frontlines of the fight against bio-terrorism and now has taken our expertise in the bio-threat arena to assist the homeowner with the development of the INFORMANT 15-Minute Black Mold Detection Test. Based on the same technology that made it possible to detect bio-warfare agents, The INFORMANT is designed to quickly and accurately assess another type of bio-threat that can be growing in your own home.

Return of the Black Death

It may sound like a campy title to a old Hammer Film Horror Movie but unfortunately it’s real and it’s more common then you may think.

According to a article posted by Reuters on July 25, a Squirrel was found at the Angeles National Forest in California that was infected with the Plague. This has been the sixth squirrel located in Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains since 1995 to test positive for the disease.

Authorities have shut down the park for at least a week while they have a chance to dust the burrows for fleas, which carry the bacteria and test more squirrels in the area. The most recent squirrel was trapped on July 16 during a routine check in the park and was confirmed to be carrying the disease on July 23.

Called the “Black Death” in history books due to the disease ravaging the European continent during the Middle Ages. Yersina Pestis (aka Y. Pestis) also known as Plague was responsible for killing more the 25 million people.

There on on average 7 cases a year that are reported in the United States and if discovered within a timely manner can be treated with antibiotics. According to the Center Disease for Control, almost all cases have been found in the Western United States and fortunately at this time none of these cases have been fatal.

Y. Pestis, Anthrax, Botulinum, Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) and Tularemia along with Ricin Toxin among others are currently under the Dept. of Homeland Security radar since they are all good candidates for being developed into a weapon that can be used by terrorist. As a result several protocols have been put into place to rapidly detect and deter such a horrific act form happening and putting plans in to play to dramatically minimize the event should one occur.

AdVnt Biotechnologies has been helping First Responders throughout the globe by offering a reliable, rapid and portable solution to the early detection of a bio-terror event with our line of BADD Single Agent Detection Test and Pro-Strip Rapid Screening System. Thanks to advancements in the area of Immunoassay Bio-Technology, Safety Professionals responding to a Bio-Terror threat event will have the tools they need to rapidly and accurately detect if the suspected agent involved is real emergency or a badly planned hoax, allowing them to put into place all the necessary safeguards that will be needed in order to contain and control such an event.

 

After ten years anthrax is still a threat

 

 

Despite the passage of ten years, the threat of an anthrax, or similar attempt of bioterrorism still looms large over the United States. Stringent security measures are in place to scan the US mail systems. Since September 2001 when these bioterrorism attacks started, the postal authorities have responded to around 52,000 calls concerning suspicious mails. The US Postal Inspectors office has implemented the best detection technologies available in today’s marketplace. One of the threat detectors used by the US Postal Inspectors Office is Advnt’s Pro Strip Rapid Detection System.

The US authorities are making no compromise over such threats and anyone taking it light has to face imprisonment under the same charges. Likewise Jay Stuart DeVaughn, who wrote 26 letters to President Obama and others inscribed with “Take a whiff of this”, landed him in jail for six-year imprisonment. Again, Advnt’s Pro Strip is a product utilized by the US Secret Service, due to it’s unique operating capabilities, the ease of use, sensitivity and specificity make it a must have for “pointy-end-of-the-sword” assets that guard the most prized targets.

Though the white powder inside the letters later proved to be a coffee sweetener and no one was harmed, the event raised suspicions of being an Anthrax-like attack, of which now hundreds occur every year in this country. In 2001-02, the multiple attacks of anthrax delivered in letters killed fifteen people and injured many others and illuminated the inherent security weaknesses of the mail industry.

Most American’s have forgotten the entire issue. Perhaps incidents like that of DeVaughn may help bring the anthrax and bioterrorism case back into the news. I’ve found that the US media purposefully does not report about the hundreds of false threats that occur each year in America.

As per revised security parameters, the postal system now depends on both manual checks as well as machine screenings. The postal inspectors receive multiple calls daily on postal security with the majority of them being false alarms. Regardless, such calls show that anthrax threats are still at the top of the preparedness chain requiring utilization of state-of-the-art, instantaneous bio-threat screening systems like Advnt’s Pro Strip Rapid Screening System.

Historically anthrax has been used as a deadly weapon for centuries. Biological and chemical agents have been used throughout history. Individuals, as well as organized groups, use these naturally occurring agents to attempt murder. Just 60 years ago a woman was arrested in 1952 after she mailed a box full of cyanide-laced Bon Caramels to her estranged husband who was doubtful of it and called the legal authorities.

Another horrid mail related crime involved Theodore Kaczynski who killed three people and injured 23 over 15 years by sending mail bombs. He was finally arrested in the mid 90’s. A few years ago, inspectors arrested a West Virginia man for mailing an improvised explosive device to a former neighbor in Minnesota. He’s serving 2½ years in prison.

Bottom line appears to be that living in an open and free society is fraught with many security leaks. Organized groups and sick individuals will always have ample opportunity to strike with deadly agents to attempt pre-meditated murder on an individual or communities of people who are un-suspecting of the threat.

FBI Investigates Newest Anthrax Inhalation Exposure Case in US.

Government health officials have investigated a case of anthrax exposure after tests confirmed that a hospitalized individual had been infected with the dangerous bacteria; due to the deadly nature of anthrax and its feared use as a biological weapon back in 2001-02, the FBI joined Minnesota health officials in the investigation.

At least fourteen people died in 2002 in the last instances of undeniable anthrax terrorism in the USA.

Officials have concluded that the hospitalized individual became infected naturally after encountering the “non-weaponized” bacteria during his travels. The individual had travelled through several western states before becoming admitted for treatment in Minnesota.

An epidemiologist with the state, concluded that “Evidence points to this case of anthrax being caused by exposure to naturally occurring anthrax in the environment.”

What kind of a generalized, non-descriptive statement is this? Yes, it seems re-assuring in some sense, however, if the hearer had any understanding of how difficult this in fact is to occur, that being inhalation infection, you would be scratching your head, as we are.

I suppose this statement is made in hopes of assuring us that this was not a successful domestic terrorist attack utilizing highly concentrated weaponized anthrax. In such an instance there would be a large amount of suspicious white powder and some broadcast by a radicalized group taking responsibility for the terror evoking event.

In this instance, the individual had been exposed to soil and animal remains where the anthrax bacteria can easily be grown. The bacteria is known to develop in hooved animal carcasses each year in certain areas around the world.

The FBI determined that there was no evidence to suggest that the individual was infected as part of a criminal or terrorist act and the agency is no longer actively investigating the incident.

Health officials were careful to note that the public need not worry about potential anthrax exposure as these cases are extremely rare, unless you come in contact with the infectious source.

Health officials stressed that the case does not represent an increased risk of anthrax for the public. “Anthrax is not spread from person to person, and it is extremely rare for humans to become sickened with anthrax, especially through inhalation,” an official reported.

Only in rare cases do individuals become infected with anthrax by handling infected animal carcasses or ingest contaminated soil or meat from infected animals. People can also become infected by handling contaminated wool or hides from infected animals.

If this un-suspecting victim would have known about the world’s most effective hand-held anthrax detection device, AdVnt Biotechnologies’ “BADD” Anthrax environmental detection screening device, they would have known in less than fifteen (15) minutes that they were exposed to an infectious dose of the deadly bacteria. They could have saved their own life!

So consider, for your own personal safety and security, if you are going to be placed in harm’s way maybe being prepared and ready to screen for this deadly bacteria or a deadly toxin, like Botulinum or Ricin the technology exists today for less than $300. USD.

For a clear and concise understanding of the significance of this one event, I would draw attention to an article of some importance. “Pathogenic Ecology: Where have all the pathogens gone? Anthrax: A Classic Case.”

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History of Biowarfare Part III - Now For Something Completely Horrific

From a historical perspective, anthrax is probably the most widely used bio-threat known to humans. Some scholars now believe it to be the nasty soot “morain”, spoken of in the book of Exodus and may also be considered a likely candidate for the “burning wind of plague” that begins Homer’s Illad. Anthropologists have recently determined that Yersina Pestis is without a doubt the plague virus behind the Black Death. If these accusations are correct then its’ safe to say anthrax might be the most well recorded bio-threat to date.

As a weapon, anthrax lives up to its reputation. Those infected with the substance will develop ulcerative puss filled lesions; severe respiratory infections and death within two to three days in most cases. The victims also become infectious to those close to them allowing this nasty toxin to spread like wildfire. Anthrax is a bacterium and can become dormant in the ground in a spore type state for long periods of time before springing back to life and re-infecting all over again. In this regard it is not much different then a mold or fungus.

The use of anthrax bacteria in ancient military campaigns as been recorded going back to biblical times. Some barbarians stooped so low as to use the diseased bodies of its’ victims to poison wells and food supplies, and even to catapult them over the walls of fortified cities under siege. In this century combatants on all sides of conflict carried out the military use of anthrax during World War I. By the time we get to World War II, biowarfare becomes actively financed by government officials who, taking a lesson from history, begin to seek out more advanced ways to exploit deadly toxin and other forms of bio-threats inert potency. Reports are said to prove that allied efforts in Canada, the United States, and Britain sought to develop anthrax-based weapons against Germany, but apparently this was never fully realized.

The growing concern for a substance like anthrax being used on heavily populated areas today is nothing to be taken with a grain of salt. When United Nations inspector’s toured Iraq’s bio-weapons facilities after the Gulf War, they discovered, according to some sources, that the Iraqi’s reportedly had produced up to 10,000 liters of bio-weapons grade anthrax, though some dispute this claim. But a sobering reality of the potential of an attack surfaced when the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo, the same peace-loving group who was responsible for releasing Sarin gas in the Tokyo Subway system, was later discovered to have been close to developing anthrax-based weapons. This group was seeking nothing less then total world domination. Yes, you read that correctly … “Total World Domination“.

After the anthrax attack that followed five days after 9/11, killing five people and infecting 17 others, it became apparent that the best way for a nation to defend itself from such threats was to create a level of preparedness that would limit the impact of this type of terrorist tactic or eliminate the threat completely. It was then determined that one of the most important factors in limiting this kind of damage by such a heinous act would be in the timing that it would take to identify the what type of biological threats were involved. This information would allow first responders to make rapid and reliable decisions that could mean the difference between saving millions of lives vs. the unthinkable horror of a wide spread plague that could devastate vast numbers of a population. The solution to this dilemma of rapid detection and response would be found in the science of biotechnology.

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In order for first responders to know what bio-threat was being presented to them upon receiving that first call to quickly contain the situation, they would require some sort of device that could identify the biological threat as close to the moment of it’s first outbreak as possible. Up until 9/11 no such device existed that could adequately be labeled as rapid detection. The answer to this problem would come in the form of a device known as a chromatographic immunoassay, also known as a hand held assay (HHA). One of the first and best of this kind of test to hit the market was called the BADD single detection test, this test would then later evolve into a multi-threat detection test called the Pro-Strip, allowing for the first time, one test that would give a first responder the ability to read up to 5 threats (Anthrax, Botulinum, Plague, Ricin and SEB toxins) with just one revolutionary device. Created by researches at AdVnt Biotechnologies in Phoenix AZ. these two devices are still being used by military, first response teams and CBRNE teams worldwide due in large part to the consistent reliability, ease of use and cost effective dependability.

As horrific as it must have been to be on the receiving end of bio-terrorism in times past, new, current technologies now exist today that was not available during the times past. With the threat of biological attacks growing more realistic, the likelihood that a highly trained and prepared first response team will have the capabilities to move in quickly, ascertain the situation with rapid, reliable knowledge of the threat involved, downgrade the event from the potential wide spread catastrophe to a much limited and highly contained incident is far more plausible now then at any time in the history of the world.

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ANCIENT BIOTHREATS part II

It is the year 184 BC and you are a soldier on a Pergamene Ship headed to Carthage to confront the opposing forces of that mega barbarion superstar known as Hannibal. As you near your destination and prepare to put all the years of your razor sharp warfare training and barbarian bashing expertise to the test, your are focused on how you are going to show this tyrant what a real warrior is all about. When suddenly, and without warning, something in the corner of your eye blocks out the sun for just a tic and catches your attention. then CRASH.

A large object clay pot shatters on the deck of your ship. Your first reaction is to grab some water or a blanket fearing the enemy has attacked your vessel with a pot of burning oil and coal, but instead of flames and smoke spreading on the deck of the ship, you are shocked to discover that lying among broken shards of clay fragments are hundreds of poisonous snakes of various varieties slithering and swarming all over the deck in all directions. Cobra’s sliding under the feet of those beloved slaves chained to the oars. Large Black Mamba’s wrapping themselves around post, and disrupting the captain’s afternoon tea. These fanged vermin are angry and not feeling very loved. Why should they? After being packed in a cramped pot like moldy roman grain and tossed through the air like the heads of Roman disidents at a gladiator free for all, these snakes have a serious attitude problem. Fast and vicious, within seconds they have already have bitten more then half the crew. The few remaining stoic warriors have decided to take their chances in the shark infested ocean waters and bravely abandon ship.

Before you can join in this decision to run away, you find yourself surrounded by a swarm of fanged attitude and the only thing you know to do besides scream like a captured carpathian in hot boiling oil is to start beating these misplaced reptilians with your trusty sword. But these snakes are fast and three of them have already gotten a few bites in on your sandal-clad ankles while several others are squirming closer. As the poision starts to set in, confusion and frustration starts to slowly give way to a sinking feeling swimming around in your head as neurotoxin courses through your veins and nausea and pain begin to register shades of Elysian Fields. Your last thoughts is the realization of why you hate snakes. Let there be no doubt about it, Biowarfare is a nasty business and not for the mortally challenged.

With the passage of time comes change, instead of clay pots, biowarfare can come in the form of a dirty bomb, a discarded package, a letter sent by the mailman, the happy fellow you have known since high school or a misplaced clay pot full of scorpions sitting unnoticed on the promenade deck of a large luxury liner. Strange has it may seem, some things never change. Although most modern bioterrorist find bravery in not confronting their enemies face to face, it is safe to say they too are afraid of snakes. Though proven to be a formidable weapon, snakes have now slithered aside and have been replaced by prayer books and lab coats. Clay shards now look like powders or toxic gasses and instead of a few hundred crewmembers on a long wooden war vessel; the victims are now in shopping malls, school yards and sports arenas can now number in the tens of thousands. Let there be not doubt about it, these are not the good times.

Now lets take a look at that sword and the improvements that can only come with the blessings of time. Back in the day, the sword would have held back a few of the vermin, but even the craftiest war trained soldier would have found himself at a great disadvantage. Now the snakes are powders and liquids and a simple 2-inch by 3-inch plastic hand held device and an easy to use plastic buffer bottle that can test suspicious bio threat residuals with given results in less then ten minutes. With that type of knowledge in hand, first responders will be able to make valued decisions that can save the lives of millions, making it better then a sword and much easier to carry.

Though not designed to ward off a pot full and angry vipers, AdVnt Biotechnologies newly extended line of Bio Warfare detection devices are both time and field tested to support bio threat first responders with rapid need to know information that many of us rather not know. Detecting threats for Anthrax, Ricin, SEB, Botulinum, Plaque or Tularemia, AdVnt’s BADD single test and Pro-Strip Rapid Screening System are the tools to have when confronted with a real-time biowarfare situation. And with the addition of the new Tularemia test device, the blanket of threat detection as spread even wider.

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ADVNT'S BIOTERROR SCREENING DEVICES WOULD SAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS EVERY YEAR

Cost of bioterror false alarms, anthrax hoaxes rises

Published 11 March 2009

The U.S. government has spent more than $50 billion since the 2001 anthrax attacks to beef up U.S. defenses against biological attacks; there has not been another attack so far, but the cost of hoaxes and false alarms is rising steeply

In the seven years since the fall 2001 anthrax attacks alleged to have been carried out by Bruce Ivins (see “Scientists Reveal How Culprit in 2001 Anthrax Attacks Was Found, 27 February 2009 HS Daily Wire), U.S. government agencies have spent more than $50 billion to beef up biological defenses.

Seattle Times‘s Bob Drogin writes that no other anthrax attacks have occurred, but a flood of hoaxes and false alarms have raised the cost considerably through lost work, evacuations, decontamination efforts, first responders’ time, and the emotional distress of the victims.

This, experts say, is often the hoaxsters’ goal. “It’s easy, it’s cheap and very few perpetrators get caught,” said Leonard Cole, a political scientist at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, who studies bioterrorism. “People do it for a sense of power.” Among the recent targets:

  • Nearly all 50 governors’ offices
  • About 100 U.S. embassies
  • 52 banks
  • Ticket booths at Disneyland
  • Mormon temples in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles
  • Town halls in Batavia, Ohio, and Ellenville, New York
  • A funeral home and a day-care center in Ocala, Florida
  • A sheriff’s office in Eagle, Colorado
  • Homes in Ely River, New Mexico

The FBI has investigated about 1,000 such “white-powder events” as possible terrorist threats since the start of 2007, spokesman Richard Kolko said. The bureau responds if a letter contains a written threat or is mailed to a federal official. In one recent case, emergency crews cleared and sealed a DHS office in Washington, D.C., after a senior official, who had received a package at home containing white powder and a dead fish, brought it to work for inspection. The contents proved harmless, a spokeswoman said.

Drogin writes that the FBI is trying to figure out who mailed about 150 letters late last year that contained powder and threatening notes. The envelopes were sent from the Dallas area to U.S. embassies abroad and most governors. One letter was addressed to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who left office two years ago. When it arrived in Boston, someone marked “return to sender” on the envelope and popped it back in the mail. The return address was the FBI office in El Paso, Texas.

White powder spilled out when an FBI clerk there opened it on 12 February. Officials emptied the Federal Justice Center, sending more than 300 FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and other law-enforcement personnel home. The powder was baking soda, said Mark White, an FBI spokesman in Dallas.

The Justice Department was able to bring criminal charges in two other high-profile cases. Richard Goyette, 47, pleaded not guilty last Thursday in Amarillo, Texas, to charges of mailing 65 threatening letters to banks and other financial institutions in October. The envelopes contained white powder and a warning the recipient would die within ten days. In the second case, a federal grand jury in Sacramento, California, indicted Marc Keyser, 66, in November for allegedly mailing 120 hoax letters to newspapers, a member of Congress, a McDonald’s, a Starbucks and other targets.

In the past two fiscal years, records show, U.S. postal inspectors responded to more than 5,800 reports of letters and packages containing suspicious substances. Only a few-dozen cases have resulted in arrests.

Drogin notes that scientists disagree over whether the nation is more vulnerable to an anthrax attack today than it was in 2001. The U.S. Postal Service in 2003 installed devices to check for airborne pathogens or poisons at the nation’s 271 mail-processing and distribution centers. They have yet to detect a threat, said Peter Rendina, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Some experts fear that the boom in biodefense spending carries a danger. They worry that a tenfold increase in laboratories authorized to work with dangerous bio-agents increases the risk of leaks. The current figures:

  • There are 14 BSL-4 labs in the United States (6 already in operation; 3 completed but not yet operational; 5 under construction)
  • 15,000 U.S. scientists are authorized to work with deadly pathogens
  • More than 7,200 scientists are approved to work with anthrax

These critics say that by vastly increasing the number of researchers and labs authorized to handle deadly substances, the government has made the United States more vulnerable to bioterror attacks (see “Anti-bioterror Programs May Make U.S. More Vulnerable,” 14 November 2008 HS Daily Wire).

Let’s face the fact that the threat of biological attack is now a part of everyday life in America, so why not be prepared to quickly identify credible threats from the hoax. We at AdVnt believe it just makes credible sense to be prepared today.